Wed. Oct. 6, 2021: A Day of Cooking

image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

New Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Pluto goes DIRECT this afternoon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a very go-with-the-flow type of day.

As I mentioned in the post, I had three loads of laundry done at the laundromat before 8 AM, which sounds like a good start to the day.

After breakfast, I paid some bills. Then, we headed out, in the rain, to the post office to mail said bills, and then to the TD Bank in Williamstown to close our account. That bank is one of the few places around here that doesn’t require masks. The staff is masked, although our teller wore her mask under her nose. Yeah, glad to be done with them. Our accounts are now officially closed.

There are a couple of bookstores I want to go back and visit in Williamstown at some point.

Got our grocery shopping done at Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. The latter is definitely having supply chain issues, especially on big, national brands. Some empty shelves, and they’ve been out of certain products now for nearly a month. Very little of it is stuff I actually use; we’re still using up stuff I’d stockpiled during the pandemic, and replacing staples and some of the canned goods as we go, so that we’re always ahead of the game and have a full pantry. We did so last year during the pandemic, in case there was ever a real lockdown and we weren’t allowed out more than once a week; we kept stockpiling once we moved here, because we’ve heard winters are harsh and there will be times we can’t go anywhere.

I’m keeping an eye on things, and making sure we’re extra stocked with certain items, so that if there are problems, be it from supply chain issues or storms, we will be okay for a couple of months.

After we came home and put things away, we had to refold the sheets from the laundry. I’d done a lousy job at the laundromat.

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist who prayed a lot and asked for guidance wasn’t a very nice person (funny how that works, right?) and, frankly, was one of the characters who’s too stupid to live. So I won’t be reading any more in that series.

After lunch, I used up leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato soup (a Moosewood recipe). It’s pretty good, although when I heat it up for our lunches over the next few days, I think I will add a little more salt and pepper.

Found a “classic” radio station that was playing songs from the 80’s and 90’s, early in my career, when I had a lot of all nighters in various theatres or out and about, and the songs all hold lots of memories. So I danced around the kitchen while cooking, which was fun.

The soup took longer than I expected, and then I made a spiced apple cake (another Moosewood recipe). That turned out well, although I miss allspice in it. I like allspice in recipes with apples. It has cinnamon and cardamom. Next time I make this, I’m going to put in allspice, but I’m not sure if I will substitute it for the cardamom, or put it in addition to the cardamom.

That took longer than I expected, too, so it was after 5 before I got the chicken into the oven to roast (with potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots), and it was nearly 8 before we sat down to dinner. Late for us.

The cats were very confused.

While it was roasting, we had the Knowledge Unicorns session, which went well. The kids now being homeschooled have adjusted well, and are thriving. The kids who are doing remote learning through their regular schools are having a bit more of a struggle, mostly due to the pressure to go back in person. But we’re doing a lot of supplemental stuff to their various curriculums, as far as virtual museum tours and additional histories/readings and “at home” theatre performances online. They’re definitely learning more and more widely than if they were in-person.

But it also means I didn’t get any script coverages written up. I’m still fine with deadlines, as long as I stay on track today. I also didn’t read, so I have a lot of coverage to write up today, and a pile of scripts to read.

A group of characters arrived in my brain, in search of a plot. I made some notes, and we’ll see.

Although I’m not going into detail every post, I am steadily doing my first 1K of the day in longhand. Sometimes it’s a little more than 1K, sometimes a little less. But it’s happening. There’s just not much to say about it.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up around 3:30 this morning. I moved to the sewing room and dozed off until about 5, and then got up to feed them, at Tessa’s very loud insistence.

The plot around the characters who showed up yesterday is starting to take shape, so I took more notes.

I’m chained to the computer today, writing up script coverages and working on articles and blog posts and a book review. I plan to take time out for Remote Chat. With the new moon, I upped my daily yoga practice. I lost a lot of progress during the moving months, and I’m of an age where I have to work harder to get it back.

What I’d really like to do is take a nap! Maybe this afternoon, for a half hour or so. At least I have that flexibility.

Have a good one. Pluto goes direct this afternoon, so that eases some of the 7 Retrogrades pressure. We’ll be back down to six. (Eye roll).

Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!

image courtesy of Nanou22 via

Friday, June 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Summer Solstice/Midsummer
Rainy and cool

Four planets in retrograde, with Mercury getting ready to join them in early July. Time to take the time for clarifications on multiple levels.

Blessed Summer Solstice! This is MID-summer, not the “first day of summer” as is so often erroneously cited.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I finally have the post up about the play I read for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Yesterday, I was up early, and on the bus to Boston. Even though it’s about a two hour trip, especially in traffic, since I’m not driving, I don’t mind. I managed my first 1K of the day on the bus by the time we hit Plymouth.

Traffic was bad from Hingham all the way up to Boston, but we were only five minutes behind schedule, and I was still very early for my meeting.

I enjoy South Station enormously. As I walked down the platform, from the bus terminal to the train terminal, the Acela from Boston to Washington was boarding, and they called out the name of my old hometown (Rye) as one of the stops. For some reason, that just tickled me.

It had started to rain quite heavily. It wasn’t a long walk from South Station to the meeting on Tremont Street — just up Summer Street, then Winter Street, then turn left on Tremont. About ten minutes, past stores and restaurants. But I was pretty soaked by the time I got there. I was early, and waited in the conference room, trying to keep the dripping in one place.

The meeting was short and went well. We’ll see. Either I’m what they’re looking for, or I’m not. I suspect they want to go with someone younger and with ad agency experience. And, of course, in the back of my mind I’m saying, “I had to make a four hour round trip for a half hour meeting?”

But I wanted to take advantage of being in Boston.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out for me to get to the MFA and research in their library.

But the rain had lessened to a drizzle by the time I left. I walked back toward the Station. I got my New York City smarts back the second I’d left the bus, so the grifters looking to hit on the tourists scattered the minute they spotted me. Don’t even, people, I lived a block from Times Square.

There was a green market on the plaza opposite the station. Small, but good quality. But I forgot all that when I saw there was a Vietnamese food truck. Bon Me. I haven’t had Vietnamese food since I moved to the Cape, and it’s my favorite of all the Asian cuisines.

I was enchanted by the choices and stood to one side, taking my time to make my choice, without getting in the way of people ordering. I decided on the Namesake sandwich (a banh my, from which the truck’s name is derived) and an Iced Vietnamese coffee. I adore Vietnamese coffee — didn’t even know one could get it iced.

Those of us who waited under the shelter of the awning (it started pouring again), laughed and chatted. It was so nice to be within a diverse group of people. I didn’t pay attention to it when I lived in New York, because it was a fact of life. But on Cape, it’s homogeneous, and not in a good way. So it was nice to be around a different group of people who were smart and funny and looking forward to their lunch.

I took my meal in to the station and sat at one of the high tables in the food area, enjoying it immensely and eavesdropping on various conversations, as writers do. I mentioned, at one point, that this was the second best sandwich I ever had. That meant that other people at the table wanted to know what was the best, which was the first muffaletta I ever had from Central Grocery in New Orleans.

I stopped at Au Bon Pain to get some chocolate croissants, and headed back down the train platform to the bus terminal and to the bus. I’d missed the previous bus by about five minutes, which is why I decided I could indulge in lunch. Although, once I spotted Bon Me, I would have happily missed the bus on purpose.

The bus I wanted didn’t show up; word was that it was cancelled. But then it showed up late, and took the first ten of us (all that could fit). Traffic was bad and it was raining. I settled back in the seat with my book to enjoy the ride.

An aging Southern Belle was on the bus, on her way to visit friends on Nantucket. She did that helpless thing that absolutely drives me nuts, to get the men to jump to her tune and help her, instead of just asking for someone to help. Then, when the bus hit the brakes because some stupid car from New Jersey cut in front, made an abrupt stop, and then gunned the engine and took off, she claimed she hit her face on the safety bar (she was in the front seat). She was moaning and carrying on how she needed ice and would have a black eye and scrambled to put on her oversized sunglasses.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Let me see.” I took a look and told her (in all truth), “Sweetie, your foundation’s not even smudged. It’s not going to get red, much less swollen or a black eye.”

She wasn’t pleased, because then she had to shut the hell up.

I didn’t make it home in time to get to the yoga class my friend was covering. But I made Moosewood’s “Best Chili” and cornbread for dinner, and it was darn good.

Today, I’m doing some remote work for a client and getting out some pitches. I have some errands to run (because we can’t run out of toilet paper, you know), and then I’m headed over to Old King’s Coffeehouse, which just opened up on the Hyannis/Yarmouth line. I’m looking forward to trying them.

It’s pouring with rain, so I might move some of my other errands to tomorrow. I’ll play most of the day by ear.

Have a lovely weekend! It’s supposed to be sunny and gorgeous here, so I’m going to alternate writing and working in the garden.

Published in: on June 21, 2019 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!  
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Tues. Dec. 11, 2018: Spontaneity, Baking, and Writing

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Busy weekend.

I gave myself the weekend off from most writing, more so I wouldn’t get frustrated than anything else.

I wanted to start the baking marathon on Friday, but I made spontaneous arrangements to go get a drink with someone and it turned into dinner, and then suddenly it was after 8 PM, so that was that.

I needed the break, and it was so nice to do something spontaneously. I thought, when I left NYC, with all the scheduling and enforced busy-ness, that away from NY, life would have more room for spontaneity. But people here aren’t interested in doing anything outside of their set routines, most of the time. Not only is it a non-reciprocal culture, it’s an un-spontaneous one. People don’t want to play or have fun.

There never “is” time for any of that. You have to make it. You have to seize the opportunity.

So, when I had the chance, so to do, I did.

It figures the person with whom this happened is only visiting here, not a resident.

Anyway, Saturday began the baking marathon. 19 dozen cookies (two kinds). With a pause when the landlord came to fix the garage door, and then roasting a chicken.

Sunday, another 22 dozen cookies (two more kinds) and the first batch of cupcakes.

I’d done a grocery run in the morning to pick up a few more things I needed for baking. The young grocery clerk asked if I was making fruitcake. I said no, I was making stained glass cupcakes. He’d never heard of that, and I said it was because I created them. I explained the recipe, and he thought it sounded really cool.

So, after the batch was done, when I went out to meet a friend for a walk on the beach, I dropped some off to him. It brightened his day.

Finished watched the French drama THE DISAPPEARANCE. Really well done, and the difference in storytelling technique is fascinating.

Monday morning started on a sour note; more calls for “civility.” Of course, from privileged white men. Sorry, not playing that game. Not being civil to people who are trying to kill me, physically or legislatively. Done.

It’s even more frustrating when the ones who start pulling the crap are the ones who pretended to support us in the fight in the first place.

I know people struggle during the holidays. I’m happy to offer a loving hand and friendship. What I’m not willing to do is get dragged down into their misery. I value my holidays and hold that happiness sacred. I’m tired of people wanting to destroy other people’s happiness.

Granted, that’s a major part of the GOP platform, but even so-called resistors try to do the same too often. We all resist in our own way. I do not expect everyone to bend to my way; I do expect the respect not to bend to someone else’s way.

Worked with a client, which was challenging. But we got through it.

Had a couple of other appointments, then started delivering the cookie platters, and also had to do some admin work.

Today will be another challenging day. My patience is wearing thin.

Then it’s more decorating, and working on the cards. I’m behind where I need to be with them.

And getting some writing done.

In two projects I’m playing with, the characters who were supposed to fall in love with each other fell in love with other characters who are better suited. So I’m going with the flow. This is especially true in one piece, where the man has a pattern of falling in love with toxic women. Instead of folding to the trope of him finally recognizing the worthwhile woman is just that — worthwhile — he’s going to keep repeating his pattern of falling for toxic women (and expecting her to pick up the pieces when he’s hurt), but she will move on to someone who is worthy of her. Not settle for the good guy, nor does she keep herself mired in a pattern with her ex — she genuinely grows away from him.

In the other piece, he wants her because she’s thrown him a lifeline, but she knows they aren’t suited. So she navigates gently, so as not to hurt him, while unexpectedly falling for someone else, and it opens the way for him to fall in love with someone who is good for him, too.

I think both of those are more realistic and healthier than the usual tropes.

We’ll see how it works when the piece is done, and then edited, and then revised.


Published in: on December 11, 2018 at 6:24 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 11, 2018: Spontaneity, Baking, and Writing  
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Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect

 Thursday, March 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Yup, Mercury is retrograde, and, once again, I can’t hide under the covers for three weeks, gosh darn it.

We’re in our fourth nor’earter of the month (hence the reason this is going up late). I have storm fatigue. It’s not as bad as predicted, at least so far, but I’m still over it.

Long day onsite yesterday, but, for the most part, an interesting one.

MYTH & INTERPRETATION is chugging along. I’m gearing up to start RELICS & REQUIEM. I’m behind on that, and I need the first chapter polished and ready to go for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY’S release. NOT BY THE BOOK is getting some love, too.

I got two of the three pitch packets I wanted to get out before Mercury went retrograde out. The third requires more work. I have most of the pieces, but I don’t have the synopsis they want. It’s for a piece that’s yet to be written (although I wrote the first four chapters of it to get them out of my head a few years ago, and then put it aside for contracted work). I’d re-read the piece a few months ago and liked it a lot, but didn’t see a way to get it back into the schedule in the near future. It was more of a “someday” piece. But this opportunity came up, and, of all the ideas I’ve been playing with, this seemed like the best fit.

But they want a synopsis.

I have several ways I work on a book. Sometimes, characters start talking to me. I wind up outlining most of the book in what I call my Writer’s Rough Outline, and then write a few chapters to see if it’s viable, tweak the outline, polish the pages and then decide if it’s something I can sell on a pitch/sample, or if I need the whole thing written and polished. If it’s the latter, then it’s a case of deciding how to work it into the schedule. Right now, I’m scheduled tightly, and I have other potential pieces circling like planes stacked over LaGuardia.

Contracted, paid work comes first. After that, it’s whatever pulls hardest, which eventually becomes contracted, paid work.

The other way I work on a book is that characters start talking to me. I sit down and write my way into a piece, jotting notes along the way. Usually, it’s the first four chapters. Then, I stop and do a detailed Writer’s Rough Outline. That way, when I go back to it in order to work it into the schedule, I have the notes, the vision, and I’ve captured some of the energy of that first excitement.

With this particular piece, I wrote the first four chapters. I loved it, but it was during a time when I was overscheduled, so I put it away without writing the Writer’s Rough Outline.

I know I have some jotted notes. I remember the overall shape I want. But I need to sit down and work out the Writer’s Rough. From the Writer’s Rough, I need to distill and then polish a solid synopsis that works for the specific format/medium this outlet looks for.

That’s going to take a few weeks.

Fortunately, this pitch doesn’t have to go in on deadline. It gives me the room to do it well, but I still have to sit down and DO IT, rather than just letting it slide.

And I have to do it while working on contest entries, while keeping up with the books sent for review, while keeping up with client work, while anticipating the next round of edits for THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, while staying on track with MYTH & INTERPRETATION and RELICS & REQUIEM.

Dropping any of these balls is not an option.

On a more wearying note, I had a rather nasty run-in yesterday. Someone wants me to co-author a book with her. No contract, no payment, no publisher lined up. All on spec. I told her that kind of work goes through my agent. She called me “stupid” and said I’d lost an opportunity.

I don’t consider working for free a lost opportunity.

This is my business, not my hobby. I am paid for what I do, especially when it’s work for someone else.

It would be stupid for me to accept something that will be a lot of work for no return, while putting aside my own work.

I was polite (although I didn’t want to be) and firm. It still left a bad taste in my mouth, especially about this individual. Unfortunately, it is not someone I can avoid interacting with in the future. Yet.

At every business networking event and far too many dinner parties, some yahoo comes up with the “oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I don’t have time” or “I have a great idea for a book. You should write it and we’ll make a lot of money.” Both of those comments are complete and utter b.s.

First, there’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s writing. There’s not writing. We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. It’s how we CHOOSE to use them that define us.

Second, writing is a business like anything else. Professionals aren’t going to put aside paying work for your vanity project.

I don’t meet a surgeon and say, “I’d love to start cutting people open, but I don’t have time” or “operate on me for free on YouTube and we’ll make a packet.” I don’t say to lawyers “I’ve always wanted to persuade a jury to see things my way, but I don’t have time.” It’s offensive.

So stop insulting writers.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out and get a few things done later today. I need to do some work on the websites, work on the newsletter, and get out some LOIs.

Plus, of course, work on the fiction and the synopsis.

Never a dull moment, for which I am grateful.


Published in: on March 22, 2018 at 8:46 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 22,2018: Pitches, Process, and Disrespect  
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Wed. June 1, 2016: Diagramming a Series for Structure

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend, but not with a lot to show for it.

Saturday was my Saturday “off” from the library. I ran around doing errands, and got the terraced back area mowed. It desperately needed it! Sunday, I worked on the meadow, but only got about ¼ of it done.

Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to see the amazing Neil McGarry in MY NAME IS ASHER LEV at Cape Rep in Brewster. It was a beautiful space, and a wonderfully done show. The entire cast was terrific, and the direction was superb. It was easily the best thing I’ve seen since I lived on Cape.

Monday and Tuesday rained, so I couldn’t work outside. I wasn’t feeling well, so I didn’t get as much done inside as I would have liked, either. My lunch date was cancelled yesterday, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since I felt so bad, and I missed both the Mermaid Ball meeting and the Artist HobNob.

I did a lot of mental work on the rewrite of what’s been THE CHARISMA KILLINGS, but will shortly have a new title. I figured out the new opening, and how that affects the rest of the plot and red herrings and incorporates the other suggestions. I didn’t get a lot of words on paper, but I’ve got a good sense of direction for this revision. It didn’t LOOK like a lot of work got done, but it’s the part of the process that, unless you are an artist or writer, you don’t really understand, and it’s difficult to explain. I ran the response ideas past my agent and she liked them, and we’re working on both a new series title and new book titles.

I also worked on ideas for CHOLERIC’s revision. The contrast between the two series is interesting. Although they are both mysteries, the tone is very different for each. I broke down some of Philip Craig’s Martha’s Vineyard mysteries, because they are closer in tone to what I’m going for that something in CHARISMA’S subgenre. I was surprised by several things: the conservative tone of the books, which I hadn’t really noticed when I originally read them in the 90s and which I do not like now; and the number of characters, which I like A LOT.

I dislike books with too few characters. Even in a small community, you run into a lot of people, and keep crossing paths with people. If a writer doesn’t differentiate characters well enough, that’s one thing, or substitutes character quirks for actual character. Neither of those work for me. But if a reader’s too stupid to keep track of more than six characters, well, that’s not the reader for whom I’m writing, period. And I’m a little tired of all these content producers, across different mediums, claiming they want “diverse” characters, when in reality, they want the mention of different skin tones, but they want the characters to act like white people.

The exercise is very illuminating. I’m also doing it with Jane Langton’s Homer Kelly books.

I also took the opportunity of not feeling well and having little left over energy to re-read Sharon Shinn’s entire TWELVE HOUSES series. I’m nearly done with all five books. I love them more each time I re-read them. MYSTIC AND RIDER is still one of the books in my Top Ten list, and I still think it’s one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read. I still sob at portions of THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE. I liked DARK MOON DEFENDER better this time around, and still love READER AND RAELYNX. I’m about half way through FORTUNE AND FATE.

I have to respect her decision to end the series when she feels she should, but I would love more in this world. I love all these characters a lot.

Back to work today; will be a long day, and then I have to tackle actually getting words on the page. I have a feeling, over the next few months, I’ll be writing both first thing in the morning, and adding another session at night.

Hope you had a great weekend.


Tues. Nov. 12: A Development Epiphany

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Waxing Moon
Mercury Direct
Jupiter Retrograde
Sleeting and cold

Busy weekend. Took some time off to read and gorge myself on episodes of the television series THE UNUSUALS on DVD. Outstanding writing and acting. Wish the show had lasted more than ten episodes.

A request for a partial of a novel I wasn’t expecting to send out until after the first of the year landed on my desk, so I rewrote and polished the chapters and wrote the synopsis (which was on the schedule for December) and got it out. When the request comes it, it has to go out within 48 hours, so if the materials aren’t ready, you do what you need to do to get them there.

Did some work in the development notebook, and fleshed out some of it as I typed. I figured out how to prevent my very charismatic supporting character from taking over Book 1 — his primary partner doesn’t get introduced until his book, which is Book 3. I’d planned to introduce her in this book, but it pulls too much focus of the characters I want to be the primary pair for this book. He still has an important role to play in this book and book two, but he doesn’t come front and center until book 3.

VISCERAL INVISIBLES, the screenplay, comes out of marination this week and goes into rewrites.

Worked with students, did some pitches, did yard work. So many bags of leaves in the garage I can’t get the car out. I’ll take them to the dump tomorrow. Rubbed teak oil onto the porch furniture, took it in, took in the last of the plants. Still a lot to do, but it’s getting done, slowly but surely.

Don’t forget to sign up for Organize Your Writing Life in 2014, by signing up here. It’s only 10 bucks and three hours on December 7, and gives you a year’s worth of organization, and tools to use well beyond.

Off to work.


Mon. Sept. 23, 2013: Hitting the Characters’ Emotional Truths

Monday, September 23, 2013
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

Roller coaster weekend. I was very discouraged by Friday afternoon. Just felt like I was going in circles and not getting anywhere.

But then, I logged in Saturday morning and found some exciting news. Nothing’s set until there’s a contract in place, so I don’t want to get my hopes up — especially after I was screwed on the contract at the beginning of the month — but I hope this works out.

Wrote two reviews this weekend, worked with students, caught up on movies, started re-watching the second season of TORCHWOOD, worked in the garden, cooked, baked, cleaned the house, did laundry, wrote. Worked on a couple of articles, but am not satisfied with them, so I’m going to keep working before I send them out. Plus, I had a horrible migraine, which slowed me down.

I did some work on Project D, and have to figure out a few things, then backtracked to Project B, where, yesterday, finally, I hit my protagonists’ emotional truths — a scary moment, but an important place on which to build. Project B is turning into a very different novel than I originally imagined, but I like it much better.

Watched the Emmys last night. Wasn’t thrilled with the show. They tried too hard and fell short. They rushed the winners and had too much silly filler. The only number I liked was the one done by the choreographers.

I have a busy, hectic day, which is why I’m at my desk early.

Hope everyone has a great start to the week.


Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 6:03 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage

Monday, September 9, 2013
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend. Most of the focus was on the new novel. I’ve now written six chapters, the first 107 pages. I’m happy with the bones of it, although it will need revision. The pace is a little more intense than my usual one, but it fits this particular book’s rhythm. My original concept was category genre, but it’s evolved into contemporary fiction, so I’m rolling with it. I trust my characters, and they are not disappointing me.

Did my course work for the Creativity Course and the Paleontology course. I’m a bit disappointed in both. I don’t feel challenged enough. Maybe I was just spoiled in the archaeology course.

Found my neuro-science research and the notes for the project that didn’t work. That one can’t be saved — too derivative. But I wrote eight pages of an outline for another one that I think will work. Even if the neuro-ethics course keeps getting pushed back, I’m going to tap that professor as a resource.

I also jotted down a batch of notes, because ideas come in batches, and, on days when the well runs dry, I can pull out the notes and get to work. These are loglines for projects I’d love to create, a mix of prose and script projects, and I hope I get the chance to explore at least some of them.

I went over my script coverage package samples again, and I’m happy with them. Now, it’s a case of running off copies of the packet, sitting down with the production book, and deciding where I want to pitch. I like the work, and I want more of it.

Have to do some work in regards to the play today, and also knock out a couple of articles. I was paid for the last batch of articles, so now they get the next batch.

The 9/11 Anniversary is coming up, and I’m trying to prepare myself. I will honor those I lost that day, but I also have to function, unfortunately, because I have to attend a grant writing seminar at the Arts Foundation that night. This is a wound time does not heal.

Relaxed by watching movies in and around the writing all weekend. There was a continuity issue in BOURNE LEGACY that bugged me — at the top of the motorcycle chase, suddenly he’s putting on a pair of sunglasses. Where the heck did he get them? Renner’s a smart enough actor to want logic, and a movie that is so detailed that the wallet he later gives her is in the shot when he picks up the car in Chicago is not going to make that kind of continuity mistake. But it bugged me (hey, I used to work in wardrobe — it’s one of the discussions I would have had with actor and other crew in setting up the shot). I hunted down B roll footage on line and saw that, originally, the sunglasses were in the helmet hanging off the handlebars, so when he hands her the helmet, he takes out the sunglasses, delivers a line (giving her time to get the helmet on), puts on the sunglasses, and off they go. THAT made sense. It was cut in the edit, to keep pace. So, from a production point of view, it calmed me down, but that shot is still going to bug me any time I see it (but you know, sometimes things get sacrificed).

Watched MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL. My response was, “meh.” I grew up absolutely crazy about the series (I mean, really, Peter Graves? Be still my heart, especially as a kid not even realizing I was learning about story structure), and just never really connected to the film franchise. What they do, they do well, and there were some character scenes I loved (especially the second-to-last in Seattle that had some great detail work by the actors). Too much character development was sacrificed for action, especially when it came to the villains. The team discussed the whys of the villainy, but I would have rather SEEN it during the scenes where we encountered the villains than HEARD about it in dialogue (I know, don’t faint, I actually want information not given via dialogue). I mean, it was fine, it was fun, but I don’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing it in the theatre.

And, of course, NEWSROOM was on, but because it was part of a two-episode season finale, it felt dragged out to me. I love the show, I’m glad it’s coming back next year, but this episode didn’t pack the emotional punch the last few episodes did.

So, I’m back at the desk this morning, juggling novels, getting other work done, hustling for yet more work. I feel pretty good creatively right now, but there are some other ducks that need to mind the row.


Published in: on September 9, 2013 at 7:05 am  Comments Off on Mon. Sept. 9, 2013: Writing, Neuro-Ethics, Idea Batches, & Script Coverage  
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and bitterly cold

I watched WATCHMEN last night, and, of course, I have a lot to say about it. The person who gave me the DVD thought I would either love it or hate it. My reaction wasn’t that absolute and simple. And remember, I’m not familiar with the graphic novel, so I’m coming to it fresh, without any preconceived expectations for the piece. And from my own rather odd frame of reference.

SPOILER ALERT. I discuss my reactions in depth. Don’t read it if you haven’t seen it and don’t want details. Skip to the next bold subheader.

I always felt held at a distance from the piece, very aware of being a voyeur instead of being embraced and included in the world. As someone who prefers the immediacy and intimacy of theatre to film, that happens more often than not when I watch a film — also, thanks to film school and working on film sets, there’s usually a part of me that’s looking at all the production elements; it’s a very rare piece that sucks me in completely and takes me on a journey to the extent that I’m not aware of production details. That’s the downside of working in the business. It’s harder to be fully drawn in.

I thought the look of the film was absolutely gorgeous, production values and art direction stunning. I loved the period detail and the way historical detail was woven into the film’s alternate reality. I liked most of the casting. Unfortunately, I pegged the villain in the first fight sequence with the Comedian, and got impatient with some of the characters during the course of the film for not seeing it or suspecting it sooner. Rorshach’s getting derailed every time he discovered something made sense, but the other characters’ unwillingness to see bothered me without more depth to why they wouldn’t, which ties in to a later comment.

I didn’t find enough musicality in the piece overall — by that, I mean every scene had equal heaviness. I’m not talking about adding in comedy or anything like that, but I felt the absence of scenes that swelled contrasted with quieter, more intimate scenes. The tone was too even throughout. I realize that one of the themes was that these characters don’t have lives or friends outside of each other and they’re now disconnected from each other. There was a lack of dynamic from scene to scene that made the overall arc seem a little flat. The cadences of Ozymandias, Night Owl, and Dr. Manhattan were too similar. They. Spoke. As. If. Every. Word. Had. Equal. Importance. The exception was when Dan and Rorshach have their argument that leads to Rorshach saying, “You’re a good friend.” That was pitch perfect.

In general, Jackie Earle Haley’s performance as Rorshach was my favorite, with the most dynamic, the best use of voice and physicality, and (as Haley does in HUMAN TARGET in a very different way), he finds his character’s unique rhythm and stays true to it, responding to other characters in a flow that feels completely natural. He’s also not afraid of stillness — too often actors freeze in scenes where they have to be still, but not Haley. He can be absolutely still and reveal more than most actors do at their most active. Another interesting response he provoked in me was that, while I felt compassion and understanding for Rorshach (even when I disagreed with his choices), I never felt pity. There were times I felt PITY for each of the other characters, but I felt COMPASSION for Rorshach. I can think of a whole list of actors who would have tried to make him a more sympathetic character by eliciting pity or sympathy from the audience and playing up his past as victimhood, and I think Haley made the stronger choice. Also, in the scenes where he wasn’t wearing the mask, he managed to convey enormous vulnerability in addition to his toughness, even when snarling. It’s one of those examples of the layers and dimensions you get when you put the right actor into the right role

It was interesting what the actors brought to characters who, basically, are unlikeable, for the most part. I almost felt it was like SuperHeros/SuperFlaws. Their flaws were magnified even more than their strengths, which I thought was interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian. No matter what the genre, what the role, Morgan can always be counted on for a thoughtful, intelligent, dimensional performance. Just when it seems The Comedian is irredeemable, he turns on a dime and has an insight that calls out an equal flaw that another character tries to hide. Again, I can run through a whole list of actors who would have wanted to make him more sympathetic, or just been wooden in the role.

I wanted to see more of the team’s past work together. I wanted to see how they’d worked together (or not worked together) in the past so that their disconnect from each other had more of a basis. The map scene didn’t give me enough, nor did the scenes with the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam. I had mixed feelings about the whole Vietnam thing anyway, but that was more because that war defined me as a person very strongly than any logical story element. I would have never forgiven Silk Spectre II and Night Owl if they hadn’t gone to get Rorshach, and I wasn’t really sure why he hung back (unmasked) when he saw them followed into the alley, unless he wanted them to get a taste of what they left behind. I assumed that was his reasoning, but I could be way off the rails. There’s talk of Night Owl and Rorshach being partners — I wanted to see that, and how that partnership broke down. If there was more on the ties that bound them and separated them, the refusal to realize Adrian was behind it all would have made more sense. Rorshach was going to get and accept and act on the truth no matter what, but there needed to be more dynamic in the others’ choice to turn a blind eye. I realize there’s a time limit on a script, and I don’t know if that was in the graphic novel, and maybe it wasn’t in the movie because it wasn’t in the novel and they stayed true to the novel, but I missed that. I also got tired of the gore after awhile. Although the violence was somewhat stylistic, I kept going, “Oh, you’re not going to do it that way, are you? Yep, you are.” And shaking my head.

The ending in Antarctica angered me. Ozymandias left alone wasn’t justice, in my opinion. I think the tiger should have reformed and ripped his throat out. To me, that would have been poetic. And really, a female antlered tiger (her name was Carla)? Really? Are we working with animal hermaphrodites here? That and Rorshach murdering the dogs (though I understand why he did it) angered me in the wrong way. Rorshach’s death also angered me, although I realize he was also asking Dr. Manhattan to end his pain. Well, that’s what I got from his eyes, anyway. Again, I could be wrong. Showing the destruction of New York City — really, can all these filmmakers who weren’t in NY for 9/11 put a moratorium on scenes showing the destruction of NYC for about thirty years or so, because those of us who lived through it and actually lost people we cared about in it have seen the real thing, and don’t want to see someone’s twisted vision on film. To me, that was irresponsible filmmaking, whether it was true to the novel or not.

The following scene with Laurie, Dan, and Sally was a much-needed breath and had some lovely work in it, but not enough to make up for the previous sequence, and the final scene at the newspaper was simply annoying. There was a lot I liked about the movie overall, and some performance details that really stood out for me, but the ending was unsatisfying. I am interested in hunting down the graphic novel now, because Stacia Kane mentioned that its ending is different, and I want to know the difference.

It’s definitely worth seeing, I liked more than I disliked, and I’m sure people have a wide range of responses to it, especially if they’re not familiar with the world of the graphic novel. And again, I come at it from a very different angle than most people.

Back to Real Life and Writing

So it’s the end of the month, which means my January wrap-up is on the GDR site. Got more done than I realized, but not as much as I wanted.

Characters are chattering in my head from different projects. It’s like tangled yarn in there, and I’m trying to gently sort it out to see who belongs in which project. If some of them don’t shut up, I’ll have to kill them off. Way too noisy.

I was frustrated with my music yesterday and mentioned it on Twitter. A guy named Blake McKibben sent me a link to one of his songs and I liked it, so I bought the album on iTunes. It’s got lyrics, so it’s percolating music instead of writing music, but I like it.

There’s percolation going on, which means a lot of wandering and muttering, but when it’s sorted, it should make the writing go more smoothly.

Heard an interesting tale on the grapevine as to the fate of a project with which I was once involved. Quite a few months ago, I was hired to fashion a pitch for a project, with the prospect that if it was picked up, I would continue to develop it for X fee. I did it, including snippets of dialogue and character, since those are my strengths, and I was paid per the contracted rate for the pitch. The people to whom my client pitched the project loved it and wanted to move forward. However, my client decided that he wanted to spend less on the writing, and slashed the fee moving forward by two thirds. I refused. He hired someone cheaper. The people who wanted to fund the overall project where horrified at the drop in quality and dropped the project.

What can I say? You get what you pay for.

Of course, the client blames me for not agreeing to work for a pittance. Bite me. The money was there in the budget and we’d talked about rates before he hired me to do the pitch. I delivered. He tried to screw me. Buh-bye.

I can’t be happy about it because ti’s always sad when a project dies in the water, but this is a case where what could have been a creative, positive experience was killed because the middleman doesn’t respect writers or writing. And it was important for me to stand my ground and not set a negative precedent.

Writing today. I’m on a site job tomorrow, but it’s more of a case of just being present in a supervisory capacity I can take the laptop and work on my writing for the bulk of the day. I think I might take another crack at trying to finish the play BLOOD SOUP for my producer before working on the three-hander. My cell doesn’t work at that site, but the last time I was there, the wireless does, so we’ll see.

Good first writing session this morning; let’s hope it set the tone for the rest of the day.